The Top Ten: March 2017

Each month we compile a Top Ten list for the Rooted community. This list represents ten articles we believe will encourage and equip you to continue in your ministry to students and their families. If you have an article you’d like to share, please include it as a link in the comment section below.

Gospel Centered Ministry

You Need to Know Why Young People Leave Church by Nicholas Davis (CCC Discover)                         Although we can’t fight their inner desires for them, we can prepare them better. Equipping young people with sound, reasoned answers to the inevitable questions they will face as they go out into the world will give them a better chance to survive those tough college years.

The Youth Ministry Box by Greg Stier (Dare 2 Share)                                                                                             Those of us involved in reaching and discipling teenagers have inherited a box labeled “Youth Ministry.” There’s a lot of great stuff in the box that’s been left to us by our youth ministry forefathers…. I’m grateful for the stuff in the youth ministry box. It’s made youth ministry easier. But there are some glaring omissions in the youth ministry box. And these omissions have kept youth ministry from being all that God intended it to be.

Partnering With Parents

Don’t Farm Out Your Child’s Discipleship to The Youth Pastor by Clark Forbes (Radical)                     I often get asked what the best practices and strategies are for youth ministry. Parents and church leaders will ask how to improve the youth ministry and help their kids. The expectation is that the youth pastor and youth ministry will fix all their kids’ problems – both spiritual and emotional.

How Should Teens and Parents Address Sexual Sin? by Russell Moore (ERLC)                                     Feel the weight of your sin, and also receive the gospel and feel liberation from it. Now, you shouldn’t feel liberation if you are “sinning so that grace may abound.” But if you are consciously turning away from this sin and refusing to walk in it, the Bible says that God is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

Youth Culture

Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones? by Matt Ritchel (NY Times)
The possibility is worth exploring, they say, because use of smartphones and tablets has exploded over the same period that drug use has declined. This correlation does not mean that one phenomenon is causing the other, but scientists say interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.

Divorcing Disruptive Kids? by Walt Mueller (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding)                  Nearly 20 percent of all births are to cohabitating parents. Four percent of all children lived with two unmarried parents in 2012. Almost 40 percent of all children will spend time in a cohabitating household by the time they reach the age of 16. And if this is the kind of world our kids are growing up in, how can we not expect them to be even a little bit rude, obnoxious, disruptive, and apathetic when they show up? My point is rather simple: These are the very kids who need to be in our youth groups. . . and our youth groups need to be safe places where they are welcome to show up with whatever messes life may be throwing at them. They belong there, and we must do everything we can to let them know that they belong.

The Teen Brain: It’s Just Not Grown Up Yet by Richard Knox (NPR)
Jensen says scientists used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. Or as she puts it, that “a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it.” But it’s not. To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected. Really. “It’s the part of the brain that says: ‘Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?’ ” Jensen says. “It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they’re going to access it more slowly.”

Ministry Skills

Hang On to Your Seniors by Cheryl Franklin Baertchi (LeaderTreks)                                                         It’s March, and my seniors are already checking out. We’ve all heard the typical excuses, “I’m too busy. I have too much homework. I have to fill out scholarship forms. I’m working to save money for college.” But checked-out seniors can make for hurting youth ministries. Perhaps, like me, you’ve struggled to find ways to keep connected to your seniors while also keeping them connected to the youth group as a whole.

Students Struggling With Motivation by Scott Schimmel (Youth Specialties)
In our work with students for the past few years, half of them are motivated and high-achieving but lost in direction and clarity. Our program helps that kind of student find the clarity he or she needs to pursue a path in life and honestly- off they go. For the other half, though, it’s trickier. There are many, many teens who struggle getting unstuck and finding an internal energy that propels them forward in life.

Stuck in a Pit: Helping Young People Through Struggle and Failure by Kara Powell (Fuller Youth Institute)                                                                                                                                                                                  If you’ve journeyed with young people, you’ve likely been near them when they felt overwhelmed with failure and struggle. But being near them isn’t enough. The goal is to help them feel like we are with them.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read Articles of March

Broken Family? You’re Not Alone by Sarah Nixon (Rooted)                                                                        Maybe the voice of shame isn’t whispering, but rather shouting, frantically telling you to batten down the hatches, circle the wagons, and hide. You think the helplessness you feel in the face of your child’s sin, depression, sickness, anxiety, failures, and rebellion might just overwhelm you completely. Maybe you are closing your eyes with hands clasped, hoping beyond hope that this will all just go away. Dear parent, this is what I’m telling your student and I want you to hear it too: you are not alone. Hear those words in the deepest place of your isolating shame: you are not alone.

A Teen’s Perspective: How Grace Changed My Life by Jaquelle Crowe (Rooted)                                        I am a teenager, and I am a Christian. That means my life is different. I don’t live for what the world offers, and I don’t act how the world tells me to. I have been transformed by the gospel, and it has literally changed everything. From the inside to the outside, it’s all different – my mind, motives, desires, delights, values, fears, words, and actions. My story of gospel transformation is not extravagantly dramatic, but it is the story of a depraved, rebellious heart redeemed by grace. For that reason, it’s glorious. Following Jesus has radically changed – and continues to change – my youth in every way possible.

In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s March Honorable Mention)

Missing Out or ‘Living In’ Youth Ministry by Andy Cornett (Rooted)                                                           The melody that begins to surge in the heart is not a pleasant or joyful one, for it swings between notes of resentment for what actually is and longing for what is not yet but could be. Those are flip sides of a coin: when I resent who and where I am, I cannot help but cast about looking for life elsewhere. And the more I rove to and fro on that quest, the less attentive I am to the people around me and less faithful with the work that God has given to me.